Thursday, December 1, 2016

All Star Changes Are Only Half The Battle

As Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association came to agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Mid-Summer Classic hardly went ignored. Sure there was decisions made on an International Draft, Qualifying Offers, and the new Luxury Tax thresholds, but it was the All Star Game decision that caught the attention of the Associated Press late Wednesday night.

With the new CBA, Major League Baseball decided intelligently that the exhibition game should no longer count. In the 14 seasons since making it matter, nine times the World Series winning team had home field advantage. Thankful to their opposition for the All Star victory, it was a meaningless game in July that determined, at least in part, over half of the last 14 World Series winners.

Here's the thing with the All Star game though, it never should have counted. It shouldn't have counted in the results column, but it absolutely should count when it comes to representation. This summer, Twins fans were given their representative in the form of Eduardo Nunez. Sure, he had a very nice year in comparison to his career norms, but he hardly competed at an All Star level.

With every team getting a representative, this is the kind of situations the league finds itself in at times. While it's not the fault of the player at all, it's a massive miss by the league. Surely, Twins fans didn't need Nunez to be included in the game to decide upon watching it; that was more than likely a separate decision made entirely on its own merit.

As players convene for the All Star game in the middle of the summer, Major League Baseball's focus should be on one thing, marketability. The sport itself needs that stage to highlight the best young players the game has. Sure, you'll have your years where an Alex Rodriguez or Ichiro Suzuki type makes sense, but the bulk of the roster should be up and coming stars. Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, those are names that should be represented at every All Star Game for the next ten years.

It's understandable why leagues incorporate fan voting into their All Star Game processes. At it's core, that's a level of marketability in giving the people who they want to see. In scenarios though where the entire Royals or Cubs roster is starting in an All Star Game, the league may be best served to step in. What do jersey sales look like? Are all of those top players represented? Is the brand a saturated result of baseball players as a whole, or is the game showcasing the best the sport has to offer?

Recently Sony announced that MLB The Show 17 will feature Ken Griffey Jr. on the cover. I am a fan of the move and think it makes sense to do a historic cover as it coincides with his Hall of Fame induction, and Griffey has long been synonymous with baseball video games. However, I can definitely understand the miss that is the league failing to provide uber marketable players that just present no-brainer options in scenarios such as these.

Thanks to the new CBA, the All Star Game will no longer count in terms of determining home field advantage. For a game that's gaining traction again across the country though, it counts at the highest level when it comes to providing a platform to market the most meaningful players in the sport.